The Red Shoe Tragedy
The rules, values, and ideas we learned growing up served us in those situations and settings. Some of those rules, values and ideas are universal to humanity, but others were built from the goals people who . Yet we often keep living by those rules long after we’ve left the group, society, or culture from which they came. We still use rules from grade school peer groups to define ourselves and make decisions as adults. The values, rules, and ideas imprint deeper and last longer than the channels for which they were developed to build, serve, and protect.
In my high school, it was a social and a fashion faux pas to EVER wear red shoes. Yet my friends who went to a Chicago high school had never heard of that “law.” It was stunning and amazing that these attractive, fun, funny, intelligent kids could live so effortlessly cool wearing red shoes whenever they wanted. It took outright clear thinking on my part to choose to set aside that rule — The tragedy was that it didn’t occur to me to stop following the red shoe rules until long after high school, long after it was even a remotely useful rule.
In every group, society, and culture that we belong, we use rules, values, and ideas to identify ourselves as members of the group, align our goals and define our roles. We use those rules, values, and ideas to attract like-minded thinkers and to channel our energy in the useful directions. But no single set of rules, values and ideas carries over completely to the next universe of people.
In increments we’ve learned to look outside us — to our parents, teachers, friends, bosses — for answers for the keys to navigate those elusive rules, values, and ideas that define good behavior and outline the clearest path to our success. What meet instead is other people who have also learned to look outside themselves.
The rules, values and ideas we collect over time grow and gather. Each one we add comes from someone else. We keep adding in more to those we’ve picked up and combine them in our own ways to make our own sense. The rules, values and ideas don’t leave our minds when we move on with our lives.
Rules, values, and ideas are like people in the way that few will fit us well-enough to earn the place of a life-long friend.
Who built the rules, values, and ideas that fuel the decisions you make?
If you haven’t named the values, rules, and ideas that are your friends for life, fair chance the answer is: not you.
Every new teacher, location, clan, situation, culture, corporation, church, organization, school, or troop offers new rules, ideas, and values slightly different from the last. Yet no person, group, or association has to live one moment of your life.
Think about that.
It’s your life.
No one has walked a mile in your shoes.
No one knows what you wish in the middle of the night.
Choose your values.
Make your rules.
Have your own ideas.
Be effortlessly cool in your red shoes.
Be your own unique value proposition.
Live your own life.
Are you ready to move the useless rules out of your head and get to a new sort of productive?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!
Andreas Wiedow says
I love rules . . . to break them 🙂
Missing the G+ plugin in your blog – am I blind ?
Kathleen DeCosmo says
Thanks Liz 🙂
I home schooled back beginning in 1991 and it seemed I was the only one wearing those shoes. Today its not even blinked at.
My kids learned a lot about walking to the beat of their own drum.
Tom Laing (@tomlaing) says
I love these thoughts of yours Liz – Trust, honesty, respect, integrity, forgiveness – are the values I value in myself and others. They have been given to me freely and I have freely accepted them.
Karen Marie Shelton says
Excellent points Liz. Same thing in my neighborhood, grade and high school. Except it was red shoes. It was green socks and certain types of hairstyles.
I love your advice to be irresistible. I’m going to make that my mantra.
Thanks so much.
Paul Ewing says
PDQ Trader says
The hardest part is even recognizing something as a rule – once you’ve acknowledged it, you can decide whether to follow… Love the post!
Bob Warren says
Have a Super Day and a Fantastic Weekend!
MP Knight says
Thanks, Liz. I was a rule breaker until I “grew up”. I pledge to forget about being grown up and enjoy breaking the rules again. So happy you shared these thoughts. I’m gonna buy me some red shoes!
Kim Clune says
respect is good.
I’m very proud of my bright red Converse High Tops!
Jeff Mayernik says
This is outstanding –
“No one has walked a mile in your shoes.
No one knows what you wish in the middle of the night.”
I am in a rule-breaking place right now where everyone else wants me to be what I’ve always been because that’s what makes THEM comfortable and I just can’t do it anymore.
So, thanks for the reminder that I get to make the rules for my life.
Teresa de Grosbois says
Great article Liz. I love the debate of “when rules and values conflict…” Therein lies the seeds of good judgement.
Sharon McRill says
Love this, had those same kinds of rules when I was growing up. Interesting when getting into biz thought there were some rules there too. I’ve been learning that beyond some univeral rules of love, acceptance and forgiveness, anyone can do what they need to.
Sally K Witt, Social Media and Ministry says
You are now “too cool for school” anyway! LOL